Category Archives: Philanthropy

A Letter to GoneReading’s Facebook Fans

A signature design from GoneReading, now available for purchase at http://www.GoneReading.com.

Dear GoneReading Fans:

An amazing thing happened this past weekend: After less than four months since it’s launch, GoneReading welcomed its 1,000th Facebook Fan.  What started as an experiment is blossoming into a genuine online community of book lovers, bibliophiles and readers.  I offer you a heartfelt thank you for your support of GoneReading!

You are the heart and soul of GoneReading.  You’re our biggest supporters, contributors, promoters and customers.  You inspire us, give us great ideas and support, and are an invaluable part of our early success.

For Our Newest Fans – A Quick Primer on GoneReading

  • GoneReading is the only lifestyle brand designed exclusively for book lovers like yourself.  GoneReading generates all income through the sale of our unique line of gifts for readers.  Buy some amazing gifts for book lovers by shopping online here!
  • GoneReading is a philanthropic enterprise that was founded to bring the magic of reading to places where it doesn’t exist.  We will donate 100% of our profits to fund reading libraries and other literacy programs in the developing world.  You can read more about our cause here.
  • Our Facebook Fanpage provides book lovers with tips, news and discussion of unique interest to readers, while also sharing the GoneReading story.

Our Facebook Fanpage is an interactive community, and we encourage your input, feedback and involvement.  Please reach out to us, and your fellow community members, with questions, ideas, tips and suggestions as it relates to your love of reading, books and the literary-lifestyle.

How to Support our Philanthropic Mission Without Spending a Dime
Of course I would love nothing more than for you to buy lots of GoneReading merchandise, but there are two important ways in which you can support our cause without spending a dime:
  1. Invite your fellow book loving friends to join our Facebook Fanpage.  Can we get to 2,000 Fans in record time?  I’m sure you know at least a handful of readers that would love to “Like” GoneReading, and I would be honored for you to make the recommendation.
  2. As you follow our Facebook posts, please “Like”, Comment and/or Share the pieces that inspire you.  Not only does this give us tremendous feedback on your likes (and dislikes), but Google and the other search engines actually track fan interaction on Facebook.  The more Likes, Comments and Shares we “earn” on Facebook, the more searchers will find our online store and buy our products.
I can’t thank you enough for your support of GoneReading in its embryonic stage.  With your continued help, what started as an idea only six months ago will ultimately transform countless lives by enabling readers around the world.
Please share your thoughts by commenting below, or reach out to me with an email to brad.wirz@gonereading.com!
Sincerely,
 
Bradley S. Wirz, Founder & CEO
http://www.gonereading.com/
 
P.S. Two more sample product designs below.  Visit GoneReading’s Online Store, where dozens of our product designs are available on hundreds of different products!
 
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E-Readers Creating Book Lovers in Kenya

Students in Kenya proudly display their new E-readers provided by Worldreader.org.

Worldreader is cracking the code for E-reader usage in Kenya.

If you’ve traveled in the developing world, or even in the most rural parts in the West, you know that cellphone technology is often more widely available than land-line communications.  It’s simply more affordable to build a cellphone tower than to hard-wire every building in town, resulting in cellphone usage that “leapfrogs” ahead of regular phones.

We’re starting to see the same thing happen with library construction in some parts of the developing world.  Although libraries and librarians are desperately needed throughout the developing world, in some cases E-readers can “leapfrog” the proliferation of the printed book.

It’s not that simple, of course, as language, technology, power-grid and many other issues pose significant barriers to the widespread usage of E-readers in the developing world.

Turning Kids into Book Lovers

But as you can read in this blogpost, non-profit Worldreader is starting to really tackle those challenges.

“Yesterday was the first day that I witnessed the kids getting to explore the e-readers on their own.  It was magical.”

As we say at GoneReading, more reading is always better, and Worldreader is absolutely getting it done by pushing the envelope and figuring out new ways to bring the magic of reading into the most underdeveloped corners of the world.

Just as in the developed world, the proliferation of E-readers only increases the need for libraries and librarians, it doesn’t replace them.  But E-readers can play an incredible complementary role, resulting in a sum that is greater than the parts.  Libraries + librarians + E-readers might just be the next killer app, so to speak.

Keep an eye on Worldreader.  I can assure you that GoneReading will be doing the same!

You can read more about Worldreader in eBookAnoid.

Bradley S. Wirz, Founder & CEO
http://www.gonereading.com/

P.S.  Hey book lovers, flatter us by subscribing to this blog.  Doing so plays a big role in supporting our philanthropic mission to fund libraries and other literacy programs in the developing world.

How Can Reading Help a New Country?

How can reading help a new nation? Photo courtesy of UNESCO/E.Abramson

A very rare thing will happen today: A new nation will be born as Southern Sudan secedes from war-torn Sudan.  The poverty and living conditions of the region are difficult for those in the developed world to comprehend.  A recent study by the United Nations indicates that South Sudan has the lowest primary school enrollment in the world.  Only 8% of the new nation’s women are literate, and teenage girls are more likely to die giving birth than to finish school.

Unbelievable.

According to the World Education Blog, UNESCO and the UK Department for International Development are targeting education as the keystone to building a new future for South Sudan.  The story indicates that schools and school children were the deliberate target of attacks throughout the war in Sudan; officials hope that a focus on education is the best route to undoing the damage.

I agree.  An educated, reading populace is the best route to building a flourishing, stable state for the long-term.  An informed public, one that reads history and learns from the struggles of its predecessors, is best situated to avoid the pitfalls of new-nation status.

I will leave the particulars of exactly how to build an education system within South Sudan to the development experts.  However, GoneReading is committed to its mission of funding library construction and literacy programs in the developing world.  We’re a start-up organization ourselves, but in the long-run we hope to play a prominent role in the rebuilding of South Sudan.  Non-profits seeking funding for such work should email us at libraryfunding@gonereading.com.

I would like to know your thoughts.  How can reading help a new country?  Join the conversation by commenting below.

Feel free to read more on the situation in South Sudan.

Sincerely,

Bradley S. Wirz, Founder & CEO
http://www.gonereading.com/

P.S.  Please flatter us by subscribing to this blog via email or RSS Feed.  Doing so plays a big role in supporting our philanthropic mission!

Sharing Books with American Troops Overseas

A vintage WWI poster promoting book donations for our soldiers. Photo courtesy of E-Books for Troops.

One of the most common questions I’m asked when talking to book lovers about GoneReading is “How can I donate my books for charity?”  I have a variety of typical responses depending on each person’s situation, but just this week I stumbled across some terrific new options.

With Independence Day upon us here in the United States, these programs seem particularly fitting:  How To Share Books With Our Troops Overseas, courtesy of the folks at GalleyCat, highlights several programs for you to consider.   As you will see, you can help our troops read more by sending your used books, buying new books for yourself through charitable partners, donating your used Kindle, donating cash and more.

So enjoy your Fourth of July weekend, and try to help bring the joy of reading to these dedicated men and women while they serve apart from their families.

Other related stories you might find of interest:

Bradley S. Wirz, Founder & CEO
http://www.gonereading.com/
 
P.S.  If you enjoyed this little post, please flatter us by subscribing to The GoneReading Blog via email or RSS Feed.  Doing so plays a big role in supporting our philanthropic mission!

Reading Is Evolving – And That’s A Good Thing

"The Evolution of Reading" merchandise now available for purchase at GoneReading.com. All profits benefit literacy.

The publishing world is in an upheaval, Borders has filed for Chapter 11, and libraries are struggling to maintain their funding.  All true, but none of these facts are evidence that reading itself is on the decline.

It’s evolving, for sure.  But I hear a lot of false speculation that reading as an activity is doomed to plummet along with sales of the printed book.

To the contrary, here is my three-step argument that reading will thrive in the years to come:

  1. eReader ownership is growing at a meteoric rate, with 12% of adults claiming to own such a device, double that of just six months ago.  This trend is not going to stop anytime soon.
  2. eBook sales are skyrocketing, with Amazon now reporting that eBook sales actually outpace that of printed books.  Again, it’s hard to see this trend slowing down anytime soon.
  3. People read more once they convert to an eReader, as shown by two independent studies in this article, as well in this release by researcher Harris Interactive.

If these three statements are true, and it’s hard to find arguments against any one of them, it seems blindingly clear that reading has a solid future.  Publishers, printers, bookstores and libraries all have their challenges ahead of them.

But reading itself stands to prosper.

More Reading Is Always Better

We have a saying at GoneReading that more reading is always better, regardless of the content or format.  And the fact is that eReaders will play a dramatic role in increasing readership in every corner of the world.

The positive implications for the developing world are unprecedented.  Just as cell phone technology has leapfrogged landlines in the developing world, eReaders can leapfrog the printed book with stunning results.  Non-profits such as WorldReader are adapting and testing eReader technology to bring the magic of reading to places where the printed book has yet to arrive.

Lastly, there’s also a strong case to be made that eReaders are better for the environment than the printed book.

My Conclusion

No one loves the printed book more than myself; I’m fortunate enough to own hundreds of them, and I have yet to buy an eReader.

But our sentiments can’t stop technologies from evolving and improving.  Despite the pain these changes effect in the short run – and they are heart wrenching changes for many people in the industries mentioned above – the evolution of reading is good for the world.

Feel free to prove me right or wrong by commenting below!

P.S.  If you enjoyed this little article, please flatter us by subscribing to this blog via email or RSS Feed.  Doing so plays a big role in supporting our philanthropic mission!

Bradley S. Wirz, Founder & CEO
http://www.gonereading.com/

Can Our Libraries Learn From the Developing World?

In Western society we tend to think we’ve got everything figured out, at least in relation to the developing world.  When it comes to funding libraries, that’s not exactly the case.

Eager young readers spend their Saturday in this rural village library in Nepal.

It won’t surprise readers to learn that many public libraries in the United States are fighting to protect their funding.  Book lovers will want to read more about the struggle for funding here.  The article points out that the library system in the U.S. was largely created by Andrew Carnegie through his massive philanthropic investments almost 100 years ago.

Carnegie helped build the library infrastructure, but the on-going operating costs – librarian salaries, new book purchases, utilities, etc. – of these libraries has been funded through tax dollars.  The scarcity of tax dollars now threatens many of those same libraries that Carnegie helped build.

As I learned during my recent trip to India and Nepal, however, there’s a much more sustainable model for library development.  Non-profit READ Global has spent the last 20 years helping to launch dozens of self-sufficient libraries in the poorest regions of the world.  Sounds counter-intuitive, right?

READ makes a significant investment to help launch and build each library.  However, at the same time it also helps the local community launch a grassroots business, with all profits going to fund 100% of each library’s costs moving forward.  Each such enterprise provides jobs and a needed service, creating a new cycle of economic growth in these tiny villages.

My wife Eileen greets the local textile workers in the READ library in Geejgarh, India. Their work funds the local library's operating expenses.

While visiting one such library in the rural hamlet of Geejgarh, India we met the staff of a mini textile factory operated within the local library.  Incredibly, they had just signed a contract with a major retailer to manufacture 50,000 cloth bags.  All profits are used to fund the local library’s operating costs in full, often creating a surplus.

While touring such libraries in rural Nepal we rode over a bridge that was actually funded by the local library association.  Yes, READ has created such an incredible model that their local library associations are now funding major community infrastructure projects.  Amazing.

Perhaps READ’s model, successfully tested for 20+ years in dozens of libraries across three countries, can now migrate to the West.

As you might expect, GoneReading has pledged its financial support to READ.  Click here to learn more about READ, and here to buy GoneReading apparel, gifts and merchandise.

P.S.  If you enjoyed this little article, please flatter us by subscribing to this blog via email or RSS Feed.  Doing so plays a big role in supporting our philanthropic mission!

Bradley S. Wirz, Founder & CEO
http://www.gonereading.com/
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